No, Really, Here’s How to Send Out Emails That Actually Do Something For Your Business

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

You’ve built up a healthy list of email subscribers via social media and content marketing, and it comes time to launch a new product. You toil over a series of emails for your list, throw in some email subject lines and finally the day comes to hit send and watch the traffic start flooding your website.

The result? Not even a trickle of visitors, much less a flood! You check on the metrics of your emails only to see the most depressing open and click-through rates of your career. This email campaign can only be qualified as a BUST.

Does this sound like your worst nightmare? I’m pretty sure I’ve woken in the middle of the night before, convinced it was real.


What’s the good news? There will be no more sleepless nights for you (not about email, anyway) because I’m about to tell you the key to writing emails that get results. Emails that get opened and drive real traffic to your site.

There’s ONE rule to writing emails that rock (yup, just one!) and it’s called the One-One rule. If you follow this rule for every email you send out, you’ll never suffer the fate of the dead-on-arrival email marketing campaign.

Who Are You Writing To, Anyway?

There are two “Ones” to consider in the One-One rule; the first “one” refers to writing for just one person. Don’t refer to your subscribers as a group (e.g. “you all,” “all of you”) – after all, you tend to read your emails alone and not in a group, right? This will help you build the relationship with your subscribers that will keep them interested in your offerings and opening your future emails. Check out the email below to see the Ramit Sethi’s use of “you” and “your.”

email marketing 2 by laura roeder on Prezi (2)

Tips for writing for one person:

  • Use a conversational tone. Using formal language might work if you’re a bank or a judge, but if your goal is to build a relationship with your email subscribers, give them a sense of who you are. See how the writer uses “Lemme” to open up the email in the above example? That tone plus the very intimate opening line goes a LONG way to grabbing my attention and pulling me in.

  • Avoid being too cheesy or (worse) too salesy. I like to ask myself,  “would I ever actually say that out loud?” This question keeps me from using clichés, too much alliteration, or channeling a used car salesman’s tone.

  • Aim to evoke an emotion with your email. If I feel nothing but moved to delete your email, your campaign’s in trouble. But if you go for an emotional response like excitement, intrigue, or awe, your subscribers will be much more likely to click that link or send you the response you were hoping to get.

Get Clear On Your ONE Goal

And the other “one” in the One-One rule? Each email that you send out should have ONE and only one goal. (This is actually true for every page of your website as well.) Don’t try to get the reader to click on the link to your sales page, learn more about your services, and like you on Facebook all at the same time. You won’t see great results for any of those goals!

If you’ve crafted a killer sales page with all the information a prospective customer could ever need, send the reader there with a super short email and a link.  Forget about filling in more information “just in case they don’t click on the link.” You don’t want to distract them from end goal.

There are specific parts of your email that will help you get the reader to reach the one goal you’ve set out of them. You’d be surprised at how often these core components don’t get a lot of attention and actually detract from your emails instead of improving them.

Let’s take a look at 3 of those core components:

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A Great Email Subject Line

Purpose: To get people to open the email!

How Master the Subject Line: This is ABSOLUTELY the most important component of the whole email. The only way you can get someone to reach that end goal of clicking on your link, for example, is to get them to open the email and see that link! So how do you write amazing email  subject lines?

  1. Review the first piece of the One-One rule, because writing for just one person applies to the subject line as well. “New Product Announcement” doesn’t say anything to me personally, whereas “Our new product is going to help protect your hard work” makes me say “hey, I want my hard work protected!” That’s an email I’ll open every time.

  2. Write email subject lines that mystify and mesmerize. Even if I don’t think my business is in need of any “protection,” the example subject line above certainly piques my interest. “Is there something they know that I don’t?” I wonder aloud, while clicking on the email to open it.

  3. Stay away from exclamation points and the word “free.” There’s nothing more frustrating than an inbox full of spam. Even if you’re sending me a legitimate email about a product that would genuinely interest me, I’ll send that email and every single one that follows to my spam folder if the subject line sets off a red flag. Check out this great list of email subject line faux-pas that will guarantee a lower open-rate.

The “From” Name

Purpose: to tell the reader who this email is from.

Why It’s Important: Have you ever spotted an email in your inbox whose from name was “no reply”?  That kind of name instills ZERO confidence and sends me running for the “Report Spam” button. Make sure you use a name that your subscribers can recognize; identifying the right “from” name could dramatically increase your open rate. In all likelihood, you’re more likely to open an email from a person than a company, so keep that in mind when formatting your emails.

The Link

Purpose: This one is SUPER easy – the purpose of the link is to get people to click on it! Not every single email is going to have a link. Maybe the goal of your email is to inform your subscribers about changes to your business, an upcoming payment, or just to say Happy 4th of July! But in most cases, the one goal of the email is to get the people on your list to click on a link that sends them to your website where they can buy something.

How to Get TONS of Clicks: So what’s the best way to get people to click? We play with this a lot with the LKR emails, but we always incorporate some kind of language that makes it incredibly clear that you should click the link. Check out the screenshot above that shows an email with two links to the exact same page on my website, but with different language. See how both say some version of “click here”? It may seem obvious but you’d be surprised by how many more clicks you’ll get with a link that says “Click here for more information” versus a simple “More information” link. When it comes to email marketing, “obvious” is your friend, so don’t be shy.

After email above was sent out, we looked into which link got more clicks. We were surprised to learn that it was the shorter link at the bottom, the one that said “Click here to register.” Google Analytics says it all:

Campaigns - Google Analytics (4)

After seeing that data, I made a note to include at least one short and sweet link in all of our sales email. (Read this to find out exactly how to get detailed data on different clicking behavior in your email marketing campaigns.)

There you have it! The ONE-ONE rule, plus the 3 components of an email to optimize the heck out of for each email you compose. Get ready to see results from email marketing that’ll give you a brand new appreciation for every email in Gmail’s new Promotions tab.

BONUS: Not sure how your open and click-through rates are doing compared to other companies’? Check out this super interesting data about email open and click-through rates based on industry and company size from MailChimp.

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